Vago: Cruise Ships Boost Greek Economy: Opportunities and Challenges Ahead

Pierfrancesco Vago

“In Greece today, the economic benefits from tourists that come to these shores on cruise ships are already higher than in 2019,” said Pierfrancesco Vago, global chair, Cruise Line Industry Association (CLIA) and executive chairman, MSC Cruises, speaking at the Posidonia Sea Tourism Forum.

Vago said that was in part thanks for a large number of ships homeporting in Greece.

“It increases the time that tourists spend ashore both before and after the cruise, including demand for accommodation,” Vago said, noting six out of 10 cruise passengers return to the destinations they visited on a cruise for longer stays.

“There are also the benefits of expenditures by passengers during their stay, including for services, food, entertainment, and shopping,” he continued. “Every cruise tourist at the port of embarkation typically spends more than 400 Euro, while the amount at the ports visited along the ship’s itinerary is estimated to be at least 100 Euro a passenger.

‘Supplying, maintaining, and refueling our ships also adds more jobs at homeports. Cruising is a sound and compelling investment for coastal communities.”

Vago said that alongside homeports, the challenge is now for ports, cruise operators, and authorities to create the right infrastructure and operating environment for the long-term.

“To allow smooth operation we need to invest in infrastructure,” he said. “This means ensuring that the specific needs of cruise operations are considered as part of the port infrastructure development, particularly in the context of the port privatisation process taking place now in Greece.”

Vago explained that the industry wants the Greek government to consider a legal framework to allow berth reservations for all maritime activities including cruise and ferry to ensure better and safer operations in light of IMO and EU regulations.

Other examples of working together come in Athens, where tour operators and cruise lines are have collaborated on visitor schedules for the Acropolis to ensure no overcrowding.

“Elsewhere in Greece, CLIA is also partnering with the Global Sustainable Tourism Council and city authorities on sustainable tourism assessments,” Vago continued. “We are ensuring that the value that we add to the communities is not only economic, but also environmental and social. This is paramount for us all; here and everywhere we operate. “

He commended Heraklion and Piraeus for their shore power efforts, noting that 235 EU ports must be shore power ready by 2030, with the rest to follow by 2050.

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